Robert Delaney | Special to the Michigan Catholic

Grosse Pointe Woods — “I’m one of Fr. Solanus’ miracles,” John Ahee says of the remarkable healing he believes he received through the intercession of Ven. Solanus Casey, the famous Capuchin friar.

Ahee, 48, was diagnosed on his 32nd birthday with a malignant brain tumor. His father, jewelry store founder Edmund T. Ahee, “began calling in favors” when it came to getting him the best medical attention and asking for divine assistance.

The senior Ahee had long been a supporter of the work of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and admirer of Ven. Solanus Casey (1870-1957), to whose intercession many people attribute astonishing cures.

And Fr. Casey was indirectly responsible for the soup kitchen: He used to send so many people to see the Capuchins’ cook for something to eat that the friars eventually decided to find a more systematic way of feeding hungry people on Detroit’s lower east side.

Among those praying for a healing for John Ahee was Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, Detroit’s archbishop emeritus. “Cardinal Szoka told my dad, ‘Ed, I’ve prayed on this, and something tells me John shouldn’t start his chemotherapy,’” Ahee recalled.

“Then, the day I was scheduled to start, the doctor we had consulted from Duke University Medical School called to say, ‘John, I’ve studied your charts thoroughly, and whatever you do, don’t start the chemo,’” he continued.

The doctor explained there was a “blood barrier” that would have prevented the chemotherapy from doing any good, while it would have so weakened his system that he would not be able to bear the massive dosages of radiation needed.

Acting on that advice, Ahee went with a combination of megadose radiation and intense prayer. That the radiation worked there can be no doubt — 17 years of good MRIs attest to that — but Ahee believes the prayer also worked.

He is one of only three long-term survivors in the world — along with a man in Australia and a woman in the U.S. — of the kind of tumor he had.

Ahee acknowledges that only the Vatican can authoritatively declare whether  a miracle occurred, and the amount of medical intervention that took place makes it unlikely his case could ever be affirmed as the miracle needed to get Ven. Solanus beatified (declared blessed).

Nevertheless, Ahee knows what he thinks about it: “There’s no question in my mind,” he says.